Brick Wall Ancestor

It’s appropriate that a post about my most frustrating brick wall ancestor falls just a few days after St Patrick’s Day. I imagine that most people with Irish ancestry find the lack of information very frustrating.

My brick wall ancestor is Bridget Gilroy, wife of Richard Dillon. The earliest record I have for her is the 1870 US Census. Bridget Dillon is listed with Richard and their three children, the oldest being about six years old. They are listed again in the same general location in the 1880 Census, now with six children (one of the first three is missing, presumed deceased). Bridget is listed as a widow in the 1900 and 1910 Censuses, living with some of her adult children.

Her death certificate has the names of her parents: John Gilroy and Bridget McGlynn. That’s all I know about them. I have not been able to find evidence that they came to America. And it doesn’t look like she came over with Richard either. Did she arrive as a single female? If so, what led her to Pennsylvania?

According to her obituary, she had a brother named John living in Scranton. I did find a candidate for John in Scranton, so I ordered his death certificate. It’s hard to tell if he’s really her brother. His parents are Patrick Dillon and unknown. His name on the death certificate is simply John Gilroy. The 1910 Census lists him as John M Gilroy, while the Lackawanna County Will Index has him listed as John P Gilroy. What a mess!

Awhile back I made an attempt to contact the church where Bridget’s funeral was held. I guess they don’t check their email and my expectations are so low I haven’t done any follow-up. St Patrick’s Day was a good reminder that I shouldn’t give up so easily. Friday night I listened to the speakers on Geneablogger’s Radio. It was an all-Irish program with lots of good tips for researching. I made notes as I listened.

One of the main points made was “don’t try to research in Ireland until you’ve thoroughly researched America.” was mentioned, as well as the book “Tracing Your Irish Ancestry.” A good starting place is the Catholic Church, so as they say on “WDYTYA?,” that’s where I’m going next.

Lisa Alzo, The Accidental Genealogist, has suggested 31 blogging prompts for “celebrating and honoring the ‘fearless females’ in our family trees”.
March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.



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